The teen, Aaron Deveau, of Haverhill, Massachusetts, was just 17 years old when police investigators said his vehicle crossed the center line and collided head-on with a vehicle driven by a 55-year-old man named Donald Bowley Jr. of Danville, New Hampshire. Bowley suffered critical injuries in the crash and died in the hospital a little more than two weeks after the crash.
Although Deveau told police and the jury (testifying on his own behalf) that he was not sending texts at the time of the crash, police investigators disagreed. Prosecutors produced a record of activity on the man’s cell phone which showed he sent a text message just two minutes before the deadly collision. Deveau told the jury he had texted before he left work but didn’t touch his phone again until after the crash.
Deveau now faces charges including motor vehicle homicide by negligent operation and punishment under a new state law which makes it a crime for a driver to text while behind the wheel when a person is injured during a crash. He is right now facing as much as 4.5 years in state prison as a result of his conviction.
Distracted driving has resulted in an increased number of crashes and almost every state now has laws either banning the use of handheld devices while driving or providing severe punishment for those involved in crashes as a result of using a handheld device for talking, texting or even finding directions.
All of this has created an atmosphere of distrust around these ubiquitous devices and heightened awareness for safety proponents who now say all handheld devices should be banned from use by anyone operating a motor vehicle.